21st Century Tiger contributor Dreamworld Australia recently announced the arrival of two white tiger cubs from a zoo in Japan. Whilst some media outlets have reported that these tigers are to be a part of a breeding programme, we would like to state that there is no “conservation breeding programme” for white tigers.
White tigers carry a gene that is now found in generic captive tigers because of deliberate and misguided inbreeding and mixing of different tiger subspecies in the mid-late 20th Century by private holders, circuses and zoos to produce white tigers. The gene is not found in tigers in the managed conservation breeding programmes for pure-bred subspecies that Dreamworld and other responsible zoos participate in. The Zoo and Aquarium Association (ZAA) (Australasia) has a position statement against member zoos breeding white tigers.
It is important to understand that there is no population of wild white tigers anywhere in the world and never has been.
According to Dreamworld, the permission to import the tiger cubs from Hirakawa Zoo in Japan was given to them under “Exceptional Circumstances”. It was emphasised in the application for permits that the tigers had not been selected for their possible white colour, the agreement was in place before the birth of the cubs and of course the colour of the cubs was not known at that time.
21st Century Tiger have not endorsed this import of white tigers and will not endorse any breeding of white tigers in zoos in line with policies from European Association of Zoos and Aquariums, Association of Zoos and Aquarium (America) as well as ZAA.
Tigers are at Dreamworld to support wild tiger conservation and the Dreamworld Wildlife Foundation have played a vital role in fundraising for programs, through 21st Century Tiger and other institutions that help conserve wild tigers in range countries. Like other tigers held in zoos across the world they are ambassadors for their wild cousins. To date Dreamworld have donated over half a million pounds to wild tiger conservation.